Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) is a systematic process for predicting, evaluating and mitigating, at the earliest appropriate stage, the environmental effects of a national, regional or local programme/ plan before it is adopted.  SEA integrates environmental considerations into plans and programmes at their design stage to ensure a high level of environmental protection during their implementation.  In Ireland, SEAs are carried out in accordance with specific legislation governing the application of SEA to land-use plans and the application of SEA to programmes.


FT has been appointed to several strategic environmental assessments of land-use plans covering a range of spatial scales from county to local area plans.  Our SEA projects with Fingal, Kerry, Roscommon and Carlow County Councils, most notably, the SEAs of the Kerry County Development Plan 2009-2015, the Carlow County Development Plan 2009-2015 and the Roscommon County Development Plan 2008-2014, in Ireland, demonstrate our capability in this regard.


FT was one of the first environmental consultancies to undertake an Strategic Flood Risk Assessment in line with The Planning System and Flood Risk Management Guidelines (Irish Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government, November 2009) (SFRA) of land-use plans as part of an SEA for a spatial plan in early 2010.



Our Projects

Kerry-SeaStrategic Environmental Assessment of the Kerry County Development Plan 2009-2015

Client: Kerry County Council

Location: Kerry, Ireland

Capital Value: N/A

Key Facts: SEA of the Kerry County Development Plan 2009-2015.

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County Kerry has many unique habitats and species that are of both international and national importance with 24 Special Areas of Conservation (SAC), 7 candidate SACs, 17 Special Protection Areas (SPA), 9 Natural Heritage Areas (NHA), and 62 proposed Natural Heritage Areas (pNHA).

The SEA promoted the sustainability of the county and considered the environmental, social and economic constraints in the county.  Our SEA was an integral part of the preparation of the County Development Plan and where environmental constraints were identified, these were highlighted to the planners.

The designated ecological areas were considered and analysed for environmental vulnerability alongside other factors including Water Framework Directive Risk ratings, the River Basin Management Plans, heritage sites and water bodies in areas prone to flooding.  Vulnerable environmental locations identified were areas around Lough Leane, Killarney National Park, the Brandon Mountains, Stack Mountains and Macgillicuddy Reeks with robust environmental areas identified around Caherciveen, north of Ballyheigue, the Dingle peninsula, and a large portion of the mountains in South Kerry.  The protection of drinking water supplies for the inhabitants of the county was also considered an important constraint.  FT’s GIS analyst prepared a cumulative environmental impact assessment map to assist the planners in identifying areas of environmental constraint in the county.  This map was used to prepare the spatial planning maps for the Development Plan.

The Plan identified that development pressures were expected to be strong around the Tralee/Killarney hub.  The area between Tralee and Killarney was identified as low to moderate sensitivity being associated with relatively low environmental constraints.

The SEA assessed the proposed plans policies and objectives with particular focus on the identified vulnerable areas.  This included proposed areas for wind farm development which coincided with candidate SPAs.  The assessment identified policies and objectives that supported or conflicted with sustainability and environmental protection.  In the event that FTC identified that an objective conflicted with an environmental objective we highlighted this to the planners and suggested revised wording of an objective or zoning in an area.

Development-Plans-for-Carlow-TownStrategic Environmental Assessment of the Development Plans for Carlow Town 2009-2015, Carlow Town Environs 2008-2014 and Carlow County 2009-2015

Client: Carlow County Council

Location: County Carlow, Ireland

Capital Value: N/A

Key Facts: SEA’s of inter-related plans for Carlow town and county.

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FT was retained to prepare a series of SEAs for Carlow town and county including:

  • Carlow Town Environs Local Area Plan 2008-2014
  • Carlow Town Development Plan 2009-2015 and
  •  Carlow County Development Plan 2009-2015.

The previous Carlow Town Environs Plan was prepared as part of the Carlow County Development Plan 2000. The importance of the town environs was strengthened by developing a standalone Plan which considered how development in the environs could be used to meet the overall development needs of Carlow town.  As this area was predominantly residential, the development policies were designed to provide sustainable expansion of Carlow Town, into the surrounding area, while ensuring that sufficient amenities, community developments and landscaped green areas were provided.  The Plan also provided protection for the River Barrow/ Nore candidate SAC which was within the Plan boundary.

The Carlow Town Development Plan sets out the sustainable policies and objectives guiding Carlow Town for the period from 2009 to 2015.  As the population of Carlow Town exceeds 10,000, a Strategic Environmental Assessment was required on the Plan under S.I. No. 436 of 2004 Irish Planning and Development (Strategic Environmental Assessment) Regulations 2004.  A Habitats Directive Screening Report was also completed for the Plan as the town Plan boundary encompassed one Natura 2000 site, the River Barrow and River Nore candidate Special Area of Conservation (cSAC 002162).

The County Development Plan was designed to provide sustainable development in Carlow’s rural and urban areas in accordance with the South East Regional Planning Guidelines.  The guidelines required that Carlow maintain the strong population growth in Carlow town which is influenced by the Greater Dublin Area, strengthen the smaller towns and villages and provide stricter controls on rural housing; while improving rural facilities and potential for economic development.

MooretownStrategic Environmental Assessment of Oldtown Mooretown Local Area Plan

Client:  Fingal County Council

Location: Dublin, Ireland

Capital Value: N/A

Key Facts:  The Oldtown-Mooretown Plan was developed to allow for sustainable and environmentally sensitive development of a a Greenfield belt.

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FT was retained (with Cunnane Stratton Reynolds) by Fingal County Council to prepare a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for the Oldtown Mooretown Local Area Plan 2010-2016.  The Plan was adopted by Fingal County Council in October 2010.

The Oldtown Mooretown lands comprised of approximately 111.5 hectares of greenfield, agricultural land at the western edge of Swords, Co Dublin.  The Fingal County Development Plan 2005-2011 and subsequent variations zoned these lands as residential.  It is estimated that the lands can facilitate 3,600 residential units together with a range of community services, a western distributor road and new primary and secondary schools.

The project responsibilities included:

  • A strategic review of the potential significant impacts of the draft plan on humans, water quality, air quality, noise, geology/hydrogeology, land use, ecology, cultural heritage and landscape
  • An strategic flood risk assessment (SFRA) on the proposed plan considering the flooding potential of the Broadmeadow River at the southern edge of the lands and the Fingal East Meath Flood Risk Assessment and Management (FEMFRAM) study
  • Presentation of mitigation measures to reduce/remedy the significant impacts of the Local Area Plan (LAP) and a monitoring programme to measure and assess the impacts of the LAP on the environment.

This SEA incorporated the SFRA in accordance with the Department of Environment’s ‘Planning System and Flood Risk Management Guidelines for Planning Authorities’, November 2009.


Eamon Timoney – Managing Director

Telephone: +353 21 4969553



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